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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/43

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THE MYRTLE.

a hindrance to the steps of Love, it fell out that the prince was summoned to hunt a great wild boar which was ravaging that country. So he was forced to leave his wife, or rather to leave two-thirds of his heart. But as he loved her more than his life, and saw that she was beautiful beyond all beautiful things, from this love and beauty there sprung up the feeling of jealousy, which is a tempest in the sea of love, a piece of soot that falls into the pottage of the bliss of lovers,—which is a serpent that bites, a worm that gnaws, a gall that poisons, a frost that kills,—making life always restless, the mind unstable, the heart ever suspicious. So, calling the fairy, he said to her, "I am obliged, my heart, to be away from home for two or three days; Heaven knows with how much grief I tear myself from you, who are my soul; and Heaven knows too whether, ere I set out, my life may not end; but as I cannot help going, to please my father, I must leave you. I therefore pray you, by all the love you bear me, to go back into the flowerpot, and not to come out of it till I return, which will be as soon as possible."

"I will do so," said the fairy, "for I cannot and will not refuse what pleases you. Go therefore, and may the mother of good luck go with you, for I will serve you to the best of my power[1]. But do me one favour; leave

  1. Te servo a la coscia—meaning, 'I help you to the best part,'—a common saying in Naples, taken from the butcher's shop.